The Veteran Psychedelic Story. Surviving War, Surviving Home.
Master Sgt. Roger Sparks has served within the military as both a Recon Marine and an Air Force Pararescueman for over 25 years. Sparks was the recipient of the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest award for valor, in a ceremony on July 11, 2014, for his actions during a fierce firefight with insurgents in Afghanistan’s Watapur Valley on Nov. 14, 2010. His citation reads: “Despite the continued enemy fire and with no concern for his personal safety, Sergeant Sparks immediately performed lifesaving measures for nine wounded soldiers.” Roger struggled with post-traumatic stress in the year after that five-month deployment, during which he turned to tattoo. “I couldn’t shake the catharsis of it, like how healing the experience was to be serendipitously tattooed right after that,” he said. “It’s a metaphysical thing of attempting to master yourself through experiencing the pain of tattooing but through virtuous symbols. The pastime took on greater meaning as he began tattooing fellow veterans. Sparks is currently transitioning from a career of special operations into the civilian world as an artist, author, and speaker.